OK, I must admit that of all sports I know the least about tennis, my entire experience being resumed to watching several matches on TV when I was really bored and there was nothing else to watch. Not that I consider tennis boring, but it’s just not my thing. Or I should say it wasn’t my thing until I got my hands on Tennis Elbow 2011, the game that almost made me miss the World Cup games on TV!

Created by Mana Games who have a 14 years experience in creating and polishing tennis simulation games, Tennis Elbow 2011 might be just the best indie game of its kind ever released and definitely one of the most complex: you can play on 9 different grounds: 2 clays, grass, hard, 2 synthetics, 2 hards, 2 indoors, 300 tournaments to play in and no less than 3,000 players in the database, both men and women.

There are two game modes you can choose from: Training and World Tour which allows you to create your own character and go for the number one spot over a career of 15 years, just enough to get you in top form. You have lots of difficulty settings to chose from and infinite possibilities to customize your stats, then the world is yours: you choose your favorite competition and start playing, at the beginning from the qualifying rounds, getting points and experience along the way in order to improve your 17 years-old character and turn it into a match for the top players.

The gameplay is extremely well done, and that matters the most in a sports simulation game. Tennis Elbow 2011 went for the “easy to learn, hard to master” method, offering players three shoot buttons and a relatively simple control of the ball: you have a visual marker that shows you where you should stay in order to hit the ball from the best position (which can be turned off if you feel you’re good enough) and then, using the fire button of your choice and the arrow keys, you control the ball’s trajectory. At first, you will be trying to keep the ball on the field and wait for your opponent to perform a wrong move, but pretty soon once your stats go up, you’ll start hitting them aces and power shots and feel like a real pro.

Probably the only problem with the game comes from the auto-hitting feature that sometimes goes berserk and decides to hit a ball that was clearly going outside the court. There’s a fix for that problem: run away from the ball (at least that’s what I did), but it’s still funny and would’ve been better without this little bugger whatsoever…

What I liked most about Tennis Elbow 2011 was the fact that it proved to be a really enjoyable experience even for a tennis noob like myself, managing to deliver a captivating and high quality gameplay. However, I am sure that for the hardcore players the higher difficulty levels and turning off the “adjutants” will also deliver an amazing experience.

Except for that, Tennis Elbow 2011 comes with some pretty decent visuals for an indie game and tons of stats for all the players to keep you in front of the screen for hours, thinking just how good everything would’ve been if all would’ve been real and not just a game. A really well done one, too and most likely one of the best independent sports simulations of the year!

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Would you like to purchase this game? Get it from Mana Games